CommsMasters Blog

Why Leaders Must Demonstrate Visible Leadership in a Crisis

Leaders staying visible during a crisis – that’s natural and easy, right?

Well, my experience in working with leaders shows that the opposite is true, so if you find maintaining visibility is a challenge, you’re not alone.

In one of the most memorable examples I have come across, the Managing Director of a high profile engineering firm more or less hid!

As the crisis – a Union-led dispute – deepened, he first retreated to his office and closed his door, then the blinds on the windows to his office. He no longer went on to the shop floor and met only with the most senior leaders in his organisation.

He became the butt of the joke across the engineering site as well as ending up the leader of a resentful and cynical workforce. His reputation as a leader was in tatters long before the dispute was resolved.

To be fair, most leaders don’t disappear so obviously. But neither do they get out and about enough, spending time with people at every level in the business.

Here are the top four reasons that leaders must demonstrate visible leadership in a crisis.

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Open the Can of Worms – Even If It Can't Be Closed Again

Recently a manager I was coaching described a conversation he had with a member of his team.

He said that the team member commented two or three times that he thought the manager didn't trust him.

The manager was concerned about this and yet, during the conversation, had ignored the point.

This is a common practice in conversations.

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How to... Deal with Sarcasm at Work

Sarcasm may be described as the lowest form of wit, but that doesn't stop it being embarrassing at best and hurtful at worst when you are the butt of the sarcastic comment.

We often find ourselves at a loss for words when we experience someone’s sarcasm, or biting back with an even more caustic rejoinder. Neither response tends to leave us feeling good afterwards; the latter can damage the relationship and leaves others involved feeling awkward too.

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5 Ways to Enable Effective Performance Management Conversations

Mercer’s 2013 Global Performance Management Survey reports that only 7% of managers were felt to be "highly skilled at having candid dialogue with their direct reports about performance".

The same survey found that approximately one in three organisations worldwide said that "improving managers’ ability to have candid dialogue with employees has the greatest impact on overall company performance".

So, one-third of companies recognise the crucial role of "candid dialogue" in improving organisational performance, while less than one in ten managers are viewed as being competent at having those candid conversations about performance.

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6 Simple Tips for Managing Difficult Conversations At Work

Most business leaders, regardless of their experience, avoid difficult conversations with staff.

Although this may seem like the easy option, it can often cause lasting damage to a business. This is why it is vitally important that managers learn effective ways to handle tough conversations in the workplace.

Managers who can learn to deal with difficult conversations in the right way often discover that it is one of the most cost-effective and rewarding ways to boost the success of their business.

Here's our six-point guide to handling difficult conversations:

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Getting to 'Yes'

When you want your boss, or colleague, or customer to say 'Yes' to one of your great ideas and instead you get the answer 'No' – how do you respond?

Chances are you do one of two things: you either push your point more strongly or you back off. And neither of these gets the results you need.

Pushing the same point annoys the other person and makes you look like an idiot as they refuse your request again; backing off leaves you frustrated at the lack of progress and feeling bad into the bargain.

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Careless Words Lose Hearts and Minds

With the spectre of recession looming over us and a reported 7 out of 10 business leaders preparing for more tough times, employees naturally become extra sensitive about what this means for job security.

Business leaders must therefore become extra sensitive about what they are communicating. If they do not, they risk building unnecessary worries that reduce motivation, morale and commitment across the workforce.

Two words in particular – 'restructuring' and 'efficiencies' – bring fear. They are inevitably heard as 'you are going to lose your job'. This naturally means that energy is diverted away from work and focussed instead on self-protection.

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A Simple System That Reduces Conflict and Focuses Minds

Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats has been around a long time now and, in my experience of facilitating tough team discussions, its longevity is well deserved.

If you aren’t familiar with it, I’d recommend you give it a try the next time you take part in a discussion where different viewpoints are likely to lead to conflict.

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